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Recommended microscope for starting in SMT?
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Recommended microscope for starting in SMT?

by markmoran on Tue Dec 17, 2013 3:04 am

Adafruit sells at least two USB microscopes, a 5MP one (PID 636) and a sturdier aluminum one (PID 1031) that is more expensive but only VGA resolution? Which do you recommend for a relative noob in SMT? Or is one of those old-fashioned illuminated magnifiers that attaches to a bench better than either?

Thanks.

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Re: Recommended microscope for starting in SMT?

by adafruit_support_mike on Wed Dec 18, 2013 4:20 am

For SMT you need a work envelope more than you need magnification. You want to be able to see an area at least 1.5" square at any time. If you can't, you have to look away from the microscope to get your tools into the viewing area. You want at least 2-3" of clearance between the PCB and the business end of the microscope. If you don't, getting your tools to the parts will be awkward.

Magnification of 3x to 5x is usually good enough. At 2x, the pins of an SOIC chip will appear to have the same 0.1" spacing as a through-hole chip, and at 10x it would look like they're half an inch away from each other and you'd need a 15" screen to get a decent viewing area.
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Re: Recommended microscope for starting in SMT?

by brucef on Wed Dec 18, 2013 11:17 pm

At 3x or 5x, doesn't a magnifying visor make more sense? That's my preference, at least.
- Bruce

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Re: Recommended microscope for starting in SMT?

by ltest10 on Thu Dec 19, 2013 2:51 am

depends on budget and how serious work is of course, but most important is:

- working distance that is distance from bottom of scope to PCB surface;
- variable magnification (10x - 40x range is fine);

you'll probably want LED illuminator and large mounting surface, or turn
microscope around on mount and work from table. better not deal with
Chinese microscopes, they are blurry at high magnification.

Leica Wild 3B or 3Z, 3x series type is fine; Zeiss is also good ones
(though more expensive); i used to assemble panels with 1000+ components
by hand under microscope, most are 0402 in one day, though it is not an easy one.
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.